Monday, March 29, 2010

One More National Title Would Lift Izzo into Rarified Coaching Air

Here Tom Izzo is again.

Izzo is in another Final Four. He must have a VIP Card by now.

Izzo, the legend-blazing basketball coach at MSU, is maybe the best college coach to have won only one National Championship. If he doesn't win another, Izzo's is going to be a legacy where folks scratch their heads when asked how many titles he's won. It'll be a trick question.

"Gosh, Tom Izzo? What did he win, two or three? At least?"

Trick question!! One!

I hope that's not the case. If Izzo, who's bringing his kids back to another FF in Indianapolis this weekend, wins just one more national title, his place is secured as one of the all-time greats. And I'm talking Wooden, Knight, Meyer, Krzyzewski---guys like that.

Izzo shows up to these things---six in 12 years---but has only come away with the grand prize once, and that was 10 years ago.

But I'm about to give you a tidbit that is both amazing and validation of his stature.

Since Izzo's been coach at MSU (he started in 1995), NO player who's spent four years with him has ever NOT made a Final Four.

Think about that for a moment.

This is, arguably, Izzo's finest coaching job. It's been a higher maintenance group than he'd like, and he's ridden point guard Kalin Lucas so relentlessly that if you look up "tough love," there'd be the coach and Lucas, splattered on the page.

Now Lucas isn't even available thanks to his popped Achilles, but the Spartans keep winning anyway.

Prior to all the Madness, there was another implosion in the Big Ten tournament, but no one cares about that, really---especially if you dance like Izzo does in the 64-team soiree.

Izzo's teams, in the NCAA tournament, typically win small and lose big, when they do lose. They'll do great in the nail-biters, but then sometimes they prove to be no match in the games they lose. It's a fascinating trend.

Izzo's back in the Final Four. If the FF was a restaurant, the staff would yell his name cheerfully, guide him to his favorite table, and he'd order the usual.

But if he could just manage one more National Championship, that would be groovy. Final Four appearances are lovely, but rings are even better.

Don't get me wrong. Izzo will go down as a great coach (Hall of Fame material for sure), regardless if his resume lists only "2000" under the heading "National Championships Won."

But one more would lift him to that truly elite level.

This 2010 run has already included two last-second wins. Izzo always wins those types of games.

Next up is a date with Butler, a fellow No. 5 seed. Butler, who plays in the league of the University of Detroit-Mercy. A couple of bratty teams, these No. 5 seeds are.

Izzo is in another Final Four. Every year you kind of shrug, shake your head and make a face if someone asks you how the Spartans will do in the tournament. Because the regular season---and the Big Ten tourney---is always pockmarked with curious losses.

And so often, you turn around and there Izzo is, in the Final Four.

He's great at getting there. I'd love for him to be better at winning it.

What have you done for me lately, Tommy?

Such a thankless profession this guy's in, eh?

1 comment:

The Lion's Den said...

Who would have thought it would be Michigan State and Butler in the Final Four playing against each other. Many people would have put Kansas, K-State, Syracuse, Georgetown, Ohio State, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt etc. before these teams. Michigan State was a top-dog before the season started and dropped as the season went on, but the fact they are doing all of this without Kalin Lucas is one of the most impressive parts about it. Heck, Tennessee was a shot away from making it as a 6th seed… man I love the NCAA

If you want an in depth write up, preview and predictions for Michigan State vs. Butler go to: and weigh in on the action.. also vote who you think will move on to the national championship

Butler is SO hot winning 24 straight games.. the last time they lost was back on December 22nd 2009… before X-mas!!! Insane! And the fact they are playing five miles away from their campus is going to be nuts .. talk about home-court advantage!!